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Scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff between 1935 and 1936, based on a collection of medieval poems.The piece lasts about an hour and has serious moments, goofy moments, and more than its share that are pure Narm. The lyrics cover all aspects of medieval life from sex, to drinking to the plight of sentient, talking roasted swans. If you've ever heard them and think that they don't sound a bit like this, you're right. As an unfortunate footnote, it remains the most famous piece of music to emerge from Nazi Germany.

It's the money part, "O Fortuna", that people remember, due to it being one of the the most famous examples of Ominous Latin Chanting as well as one of the most overused trailer songs in history. (see Recycled Trailer Music). It's also a fine example of Canis Latinicus; not only is it in Medieval Latin, which differs greatly from the classical language, but it's also sung with what can best be described as a French accent, stressing the last syllables of each word. In proper Latin, the stress on each word is generally placed on the penultimate syllable, but that doesn't fit well into the music.

Carmina Burana can be used for a little bit of snobbery, distinguishing the people who recognize the work for what it is[1] and the others who remember the music from The Omen. The same applies to Finlandia and Die Hard 2.

Often parodied.

Straight Examples:


Live Action TV

  • The X Factor
  • Conan O'Brien's Evil Puppy is just an adorable golden retriever puppy who appears while Carmina Burana plays.
  • Used to great effect in Only Fools and Horses to highlight Rodney's suspicions that Del's son Damien is the Antichrist.
  • Performed by an amateur symphony orchestra in Kinshasa, Congo, on a 2012 episode of Sixty Minutes.


  • Battle Angel Alita, despite being a non-audio medium, nonetheless quotes "O Fortuna" during Den's last charge.

Real Life

  • Every live sports event ever, usually when the home team takes the field/court/ice/whatever.
  • Michael Jackson's Dangerous tour opened with a video montage set to this.


  • American power/thrash metal band Iced Earth managed to adapt the tune in a way that freshened it up without losing any of the epic feeling in their song "Angels Holocaust".
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra has an arrangement of "O Fortuna" on their album "Night Castle".
  • Enigma's Screen Behind the Mirror album references "O Fortuna" in four of the songs, including "Gravity Of Love".
  • Ministry's "No W" samples "O Fortuna" in it's intro - or at least the version heard in the music video and the Rock Against Bush compilation does; the album version edits that section out, possibly for copyright reasons.

Video Games

  • The original version of "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII borrows its lyrics from Carmina Burana (with the exception of an insertion of the villain's name). The song was given original, more thematically-fitting lyrics later on for its appearance in Kingdom Hearts and AdventChildren.
  • The music played during the second half of the final battle against Bowser at the end of Super Mario Galaxy 2 sounds a lot like this. Unfortunately, you only get to hear part of it because the battle will already be over just as the music starts to play.
  • A remix of "O Fortuna" entitled "True Hell On Earth" can be heard in G Senjou no Maou during the novel's climax, when "Maou" successfully takes over the city.



  1. "O Fortuna" is basically a college student complaining about how life isn't fair, and probably lamenting a loss at the gambling table
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